Al Jazeera Using Egypt Coverage to Edge Onto U.S. Cable, Satellite Operators

6:03 AM PST 02/01/2011 by Georg Szalai
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

"There's been suspicions in the government about what their true motivations might be,” says one industry exec about the network, which is not carried on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and DirecTV. "I think this might be a time to re-examine that."

NEW YORK – Al Jazeera’s English-language channel is hoping its coverage of the protests in Egypt will give it a new chance to win carriage by U.S. cable and satellite TV operators.

The Qatar-based news service has been largely shut out of the U.S. market, the New York Times and New York Post reported Tuesday.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and DirecTV do not currently carry Al Jazeera English, while Dish Network carries Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Sports, but not the English-language channel, the Post said.

"There is no question they are viewed as a trusted source by the people…all over the world," one unnamed network news head told the Post. "But there's clearly been suspicions in the government about what their true motivations might be. I think this might be a time to re-examine that."

Al Jazeera said traffic to its Web site has jumped 2,500 percent since the protests in Egypt started, with more than 50 percent of the increase coming from the U.S. The site’s live coverage stream has garnered more than 1.6 million views in the U.S., according to the Times.

"Conversations with distributors in the US are ongoing," said an Al Jazeera spokeswoman. "This remains a priority market for us and we're hopeful that the high numbers of people in the U.S. watching us online will be an indication to cable operators that there is a strong demand for the channel."

 “I sincerely hope now is the turning point,” Al Anstey, the managing director of Al Jazeera English, told the Times.

Major distributors weren’t immediately willing to commit to carriage. Some of them said that they have to balance the requests of many networks that want space on an already-crowded lineup, the Times said.

 

comments powered by Disqus